These are the latest uploads on my youtube channel. Videos tend to focus on body awareness which includes muscle control. A lot of my videos also deal with self fixing knee pain and other problems (like collapsed arches), most of which I've had to deal with in my own body.
In both shoulderstand and plow pose you have the option of retracting your shoulder blades so that can press your shoulders into the floor.
Rather than clasping your hands in plough pose to do this, try using your rhomboids!
So that you can feel when you are balanced on your shoulders you can practice some simple rolling exercises.
So that your neck is under less stress in shoulder stand and plow pose you can do these poses with your torso lifted relative to your head.
Practice some sort of active back bend for the neck either before or after these two poses, using the back bend as a counter pose for the forward bend.
For stronger knees (and for dealing with knee pain), an alternative to the Peterson squat is a "heels lifted" squat.
In this case, use the calf muscles to keep the heels lifted, particularly the gastrocnemius which cross the back of the knee joint to attach to the femur.
Do practice balancing on your forefeet without weight first.
One advantage of squatting with both legs is that I can go all the way down (butt to heels).
Note that I'm doing this to help deal with knee pain. However, I'm also doing it slowly and carefully.
Check out previous videos below on adding tension to IT Band, Inguinal Ligament Tension, Hip Rotation using long hip muscles.
I've had IT Band Knee pain, particularly while doing weighted front squats, and my method for alleviating that pain was to activate particular muscles while squatting.
One method involves adding tension to the IT Band by activating the Vastus Lateralis muscle.
Another method involves anchoring the bottom end of the IT Band by either activating the Tibialis Anterior directly or by activating it indirectly by stabilizing the heel.
This is a version of the Peterson squat that I've been practicing for the last month or so. Basically, it's a squat on one leg with the heel lifted.
While it's generally not recommended to do this exercise if you have knee problems, I've been using it despite my knee problems. And that's what I talk about in this video, how to do the Peterson squat safely even if you do have knee problems.
The main thing is to do it slowly and within a comfortable range of motion.
So that you can gradually extend that range of motion, in this video I talk about the various muscle control actions that I use to make my knees pain free.
A very simple way to create sensation is to practice lengthening and then relaxing the toes, fingers and spine.
Trying to make these body parts feel long causes muscles to activate against each other, creating sensation.
Lengthening the toes or fingers can activate muscles that cross into the lower leg or forearm at the same time making the ankles or wrists a little bit more stable. These can then act as a foundation for muscles that attach from these bones to bones that are closer to the spine.
Lengthening the spine generally creates length between the pelvis and ribcage as well as between the ribcage and head. That means that the torso can then act as a stable foundation for the shoulders and hips.
If you have difficulty with deep and/or slow breathing, then lengthening and then relaxing the spine, fingers, and toes slowly and smoothly can have an effect similar to slow and deep breathing.
The external obliques can be used to add tension to the inguinal ligament.
One reason for doing this is to help anchor the front of the hip bone. Doing this, gives the muscles that attach at or near to the ASIC and pubic bone an anchor point.
These muscles include shorter hip muscles like: iliacus, pectineus and gluteus minimus.
They also include long hip muscles like: the sartorius, rectus femoris, tensor fascia latae and gracilis.
Because these long hip muscles cross the knee joint, creating an upward pull on the inguinal ligament may be part of effectively dealing with knee pain.
One important aspect of muscle control is making slight adjustments in positioning so that you can feel your body.
If you don't have sensation, then chances are, the target muscle isn't activating. And so making adjustments is a way of turning muscles on so that via those activated muscles you can feel your body.
The long hip muscles connect from the lower leg bones (tibia and fibula) to the four corners of the hip bones (ASIC, PSIC, pubic bone, Ischial tuberosity).
Working from a rotationally stabilized shin, these muscles can be used to rotate and otherwise control the hip bone.
Since the sartorius, recturs femoris, tensor fascia latae/IT band and Gluteus maximus/IT band all pass over the vastus muscles, activating the vastus muscles (as well as the adductors) can help to take out the slack from these muscles making rotation control of the hip bone relative to the thigh (or vice versa) easier.
Interested in learning how to feel and control your leg muscles?
Sensational Leg Anatomy includes a series of videos teaching simple muscle control exercises. The whole series teaches you to feel and control the major muscles of the legs from the hip bones down to the toes.
You can also get it as part of the Muscle Control Package(Learn to Feel Your Body)
Muscle control not only helps you to control your body, it also helps you to feel it making it easier to balance, improve flexibility and deal with pain and poor posture.
The dance of shiva is handy if you are interested in improving upper body balance and coordination.